Welcome to Parrot Cay - Private Island Vacation Rentals
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In December 1998, COMO Hotels and Resorts – also behind Cocoa Island in the Maldives, as well as city hotels, including Metropolitans in Bangkok and London – opened its first private island resort, in the Turks and Caicos. Called Parrot Cay, this landmark opening brought COMO’s vision of privacy and stylish beach living to the Caribbean.
The Turks and Caicos are located in the northern Caribbean, an archipelago of eight principal islands and more than 40 smaller cays, of which Parrot Cay is one. The islands are positioned some 575 miles south east of Miami, which is a 70-minute flight away. International flights come into Providenciales, the main island, from where it is a 35-minute speedboat ride to the resort.
The Turks and Caicos have been largely saved from high-rise construction. The region came relatively late to tourism compared to opportunities elsewhere in the Caribbean. This has protected the islands’ natural integrity. The topography of Parrot Cay slopes up from the ocean towards a 50ft-high ridge along the center of the
island. The landmass covers about 1000 acres. It has 3.2 miles of white-sand beaches, including a mile long stretch on the west side (this is the resort’s principal beach).
One mile south lies Rocky Point, an outcrop concealing more curls of sand. This is where Parrot Cay Estates is located, encompassing the largest villas, which are owned by private individuals but let and managed by the hotel.
On the quiet, east side of the island you will find the spa, COMO Shambhala Retreat at Parrot Cay, which overlooks mangroves and wetlands rich with birdlife. There are 175 species, including ruby-throated hummingbirds. Much of the island remains undeveloped, given over to cactus and thickly entwined scrub. The ocean is warm, and beaches softly shelving. Tides are weak and shore-side currents are gentle. What makes this sea so extraordinary is its uncanny shade of turquoise.
The resort itself is made up of a principal building – whitewash with coral-pink roofing – set back from the beach on raised ground. This is where reception is located, in addition to concierge, the resort shop, bar, ‘Terrace’ restaurant, and library with Internet access, a pool table and private veranda. On one side of this central building lies the tennis court; on the other lies an accommodation wing housing 14 Ocean Facing rooms, four COMO Suites and 25 Garden View rooms which open out on to a gently sloped lawned area. All have terraces and are generously sized, with the smallest double measuring 650sq ft.
Some 650 ft closer to the beach are the Beach Villas and Houses. They comprise six one-bedroom beach houses and three one-bedroom villas all of which have plunge pools, two two-bedroom Beach Villas, and one three-bedroom Beach Villa. These are low buildings, steps from the sand, with weathered wood cladding and decking.
The resort’s main pool is behind the beach – infinity edged, measuring some 5,500sq feet, flanked by cream teak sun loungers and two Indonesian-style thatched bales at each extremity. ‘Lotus’ restaurant, the Beach Bar and watersports center are positioned near the pool.
The interior aesthetic is by Keith Hobbs, whose company United Designers was also responsible for the Metropolitan, London. The warm, contemporary look with a colonial-style finish is achieved with soft white cottons covering chairs, cushions and four-poster beds. Further design motifs include teak furnishing, terracotta tiles and Indonesian loungers. Windows are shuttered, and bathrooms are white tongue-and-groove with wooden surfaces.
In-room facilities are decadent in their detail. Guests can choose between air-conditioning and overhead ceiling fans. Beds are dressed in the finest Italian linens. Other facilities include flat screen TVs with satellite channels, DVD, CD and minibars. In addition, guests can take advantage of complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access.
Parrot Cay Estates complements the resort’s main accommodation. This recent project is a collaboration between Parrot Cay and private owners, who place their properties, which are designed and built by Parrot Cay, in a rental pool. They are landscaped to maximize privacy, and have commanding views of the leeward lagoon. Each is configured around a pool and has substantial private decks. Interiors share a pared down aesthetic, combining the neutral colors of sun-bleached oak and pale Caicos stone with white cottons.
Currently, Parrot Cay Estates is made up of Rocky Point, which is located on close to two acres of beachfront north of the ‘Rocky Point’ landmark on the island’s leeward flank about one mile distant from the main resort. It comprises a detached master bedroom and two further guest suites. Lucky House and Dhyani House are also three-bedroom estates as well as the five-bedroom villa, ‘Tamarind’. The Residence is the largest construction and comprises a complex of three villas. It includes a five bedroom main house with a 1000sq ft master bedroom and 2700sq ft infinity pool; in addition, there are two three-bedroom villas on each side, both with pools. You can rent these elements separately. However, for larger parties the complex is ideal because of the privacy afforded by The Residence’s self-contained area.
The Sanctuary, new to Parrot Cay in 2007, is another of our flagship rentals, made up of two houses with views of both the island’s lush vegetation and turquoise sea. Each house is comprised of a second floor master bedroom/living area with 360 degree water views, three other en-suite bedrooms, as well as an infinity pool. There is a screened-in guest pavilion flanked by a main pool and plenty of outside terracing. A further formal dining area inside seats up to 20. Cedar paneled walls, teak furniture, walnut floors and limestone bathrooms are part of the high interior finish. Eclectic pieces reflect the owner's world travels, from Bali to Africa, including an enviable art collection.
Facilities in all these privately owned houses available for rental include four-poster king-size or twin beds, air conditioning, ceiling fans, satellite plasma televisions, DVD players, direct dial telephones with voicemail, radios, CD players, interior standalone and outdoor showers, kitchens with a toaster, espresso machine, oven, stovetop, microwave, dishwasher and full-size refrigerator and substantial living-dining areas with sofas. Services include daily maids, private butlers and villa dining.
Guests of Parrot Cay Estates also have full access to the main resort and its two restaurants, with menus devised by COMO Hotels and Resorts’ Executive Chef Amanda Gale ‘Lotus’ is an easygoing al fresco poolside eatery with open kitchens serving lunch and dinner. ‘Terrace,’ with outdoor and indoor tables, is the gourmet restaurant serving breakfast and dinner. An All Day Dining menu is also available.
In addition, guests can benefit from COMO Shambhala Cuisine, designed to maximize energy and wellbeing with the use of raw foods rich in living enzymes, vitamins and sea minerals. This special menu features little salt (when necessary, Celtic sea salt is used), no dairy (as an alternative, tofu is blended with aioli to create a yoghurt), and unprocessed honey in place of sweeteners. It avoids fats, using organic olive oil instead of butter. Fish is nearly always steamed, and the only meat that appears on the COMO Shambhala menu is organic chicken. There is no calorie counting, although dishes are conspicuously light, from the soya bean, pumpkin and Swiss chard patties with tofu aioli and tabouleh salad, to the vegetable hot pot with silken tofu and udon noodles. Healthy desserts include an organic carrot cake with vanilla yoghurt sorbet. But it is not just cuisine that caters to guests’ wellbeing.
Parrot Cay’s award winning COMO Shambhala Retreat offers Yoga, Pilates and related treatments. The retreat buildings fit appropriately with their context, incorporating nature into the spa experience so that guests feel connected. It is a supremely peaceful location, with views over the island’s wetlands towards the North Caicos channel.
Facilities include a 540sq ft infinity pool that faces the leeward side of the island, a 1,300sq ft Yoga room aired by natural breezes, and nine treatment rooms. In 2004, the holistic center was expanded to include an outdoor Jacuzzi garden for women only, and two Yoga and Pilates studios that guests can take over for one-on-one tuition (specialist equipment includes a rope wall, Yoga props, the ‘Reformer’ and ‘Wunda Chair’). There are also two double massage rooms and Japanese baths, meaning more couples can enjoy their treatments together.
Asian-based therapies range from shiatsu to Ayurvedic detox programs. Recommendations are made on a consultative rather than prescriptive basis, allowing therapists to respond to each guest on a one-by one basis. In addition, COMO Shambhala Retreat at Parrot Cay hosts regular consultants including Susan King, an intuitive counselor based in London. An Ayurvedic Doctor is permanently resident. Yoga enthusiasts can take part in retreats led by world-renowned teachers, including Rodney Yee from the Piedmont Yoga Centre in California, and Erich Schiffmann, another Parrot Cay regular. These Retreat Weeks usually include five hours of practice daily. The experience is combined with eating healthful COMO Shambhala Cuisine and a full range of holistic treatments. The simplicity of each day lets students empty their mind of all other concerns, for at Parrot Cay, seamless service and attention to detail ensures guests can focus on the reason for their coming to this uniquely soulful place: to learn Yoga for the first time, or to deepen their existing practice.
For the outward bound, the Turks’ and Caicos’ warm and unpolluted waters promise some of the world’s best off-site diving, with PADI instructors available through two local companies. Snorkeling, beach drop-offs and fishing trips are popular, and visits to Provo Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole championship course designed by Karl Litten with lush fairways, rugged limestone outcropping and freshwater lakes. Family activities are manifold, and are supported by an experienced team of activity leaders and babysitters.
Island Resorts: COMO’s private resorts offer powder-white beaches and some of the world’s best diving. The understated style and laid-back nature of Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos and Cocoa Island in the Maldives belie the exacting service that has become a COMO hallmark. World-class cuisine and comprehensive wellness treatments and activities at COMO Shambhala Retreats complete COMO’s approach to a perfect beach holiday.
Adventure Retreats: The Uma properties in Paro in Bhutan and Ubud in Bali unveil local culture, nature, and religious and folkloric traditions. Specialist guiding, treks and tours, physical activities and tailor-made programs ensure memorable insights into some of the world’s most unique locations. Intimate and relaxed, the Uma properties reference local design and cuisine while providing an unmistakably COMO experience.
Wellness Resorts: COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali is a sanctuary for holistic wellness. Expert staff are goal-oriented, relevant and realistic in their consultative approach. Each guest’s individual needs and ambitions determine the program of nutrition, exercise, therapies and activities. Facilities and tropical villa-style accommodation are impeccably appointed.
COMO Shambhala is an award-winning wellness concept developed as a sister brand to COMO Hotels and Resorts. The company is headquartered in Singapore and comes under The COMO Group. Running as a thread through COMO properties worldwide, COMO Shambhala promotes a healthy way of living, learning and eating well. The pursuit of balance is central to the approach, the word Shambhala translating as ‘peace’ in Sanskrit.
The COMO Shambhala resort experience combines Asian-based therapies, nutrition, exercise and yoga with a results-driven agenda managed by experts in holistic health. Weight loss, anti-ageing and stress management can all be addressed while staying in a spectacular part of the world. Facilities are stateof-the art and usually include yoga rooms, Pilates equipment, hydrotherapy and Ayurveda. The flagship retreat is COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali, an award-winning destination spa in Bali.
The COMO Shambhala city spa experience is attached to COMO’s Metropolitan properties in Bangkok and London, as well as a standalone yoga centre and day spa in Singapore. COMO Shambhala Cuisine has been developed by the COMO Group’s Executive Chef Amanda Gale for those seeking better health through nutritional, low-calorie eating. Largely organic and often locally sourced, the cuisine replaces refined foods with naturally occurring sugars, and bad fats with nutritious nuts and oils.
COMO Shambhala also produces a range of skin and bodycare products, COMO Shambhala At Home, made from all-natural ingredients. COMO Shambhala Active Living is the company’s resort and active wear line, launched in 2007.
Activities at Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands Beyond Parrot Cay – which includes a comprehensive COMO Shambhala Retreat, as well as watersports center offering kayaking, windsurfing and catamaran sailing – there are numerous excursions available, taking guests further into this archipelago of coral reefs.
Island hopping is a popular activity, incorporating uninhabited cays, such as Iguana Island (home of the shy rock iguana) for snorkeling and impromptu barbecue-picnics. Here one can indulge in the natural solitude of powder beaches and pristine shallow waters and perhaps be fortunate enough to discover a snow-white sand dollar.
Boat charters include private sunset cruises and intimate secluded beach drop-offs. Guests can also cango big game or bone fishing (catch and release is encouraged to help preserve these fragile islands). The resort can also arrange powerboat rides around the islands. Specific excursions include exploring West Caicos, an uninhabited cay with some of the bluest waters in the island chain. Guests can snorkel coral reefs, do some cliff diving, hike to historic Yankee Town and the mysterious Lake Catherine. They can also visit French Cay, a small wildlife sanctuary lying on the edge of the wall about 20 miles to the southwest of Parrot Cay. If the tidal conditions are good, it’s
possible to continue to West Sand Spit, a small sandbar which emerges at low tide on the edge of the Caicos Bank – an incredible natural phenomenon.
North Caicos’ location directly across from Parrot Cay makes it an ideal destination to explore by both kayak and vehicle. Guests can paddle the tranquil waters of Bottle Creek, tour the plantation ruins and visit Flamingo Pond Nature Reserve. They can enjoy a delicious lunch in the home of local matriarch and accomplished chef, Susan Butterfield, and take time to walk around the picturesque village of Kew. Kayaking is also popular – a four-hour eco-tour exploring the mangrove channels weaving up inside the nature reserve adjacent to Parrot Cay. Guests can look for marine and birdlife and learn about the tropical ecology. Single and tandem kayaks are available with basic lessons provided.
Middle Caicos is the largest island in the chain, but despite its size only 300 people officially reside here. Guests can explore it on a full-day eco-adventure, following an invigorating mountain bike trail that covers about 15 miles. The route follows a rugged road through the hills and pinelands to the south and then loops back along an easier coastal road to the north. Time is taken to explore the impressive limestone caves near Conch Bar and to swim at the famed Mudjin Harbour.
The Turks and Caicos are considered among the world’s top 10 diving destinations. Each dive trip is usually conducted with two staff (either both instructors or one dive master and one dive instructor). Parrot Cay dive charters are with Big Blue, www.bigblue.tc, a local dive and eco-tour company which specializes in small group and private dive services, catering to all experience levels. Note; divers are required to hold an International SCUBA license, however beginners have the option of arranging a resort or try-dive with a private instructor.
Sites vary depending on the tides and weather conditions and can include wall diving, deep spur and coral diving. Grace Bay is popular for barrier reef diving. Spur and groove coral formations top a coral covered slope down to about 120 feet, a favorite spot for large groupers, sharks and turtles. Northwest Point is Provo’s famous wall diving area with spectacular visibility. The top of the wall starts at around 40 feet and drops off into the abyss. French Cay is a remote dot in the ocean that was once a pirate hangout and now a bird sanctuary. Its diving is some of the most pristine throughout the islands.
Other points of interest include golf at Provo Golf and Country Club. This 18-hole, par 72, professionally designed golf course is ranked as one of the top five golf communities in the Caribbean and is conveniently located just past Parrot Cay’s private dock at Leeward.
Families and Children
At Parrot Cay, we provide tailor made activities for families. These range from shell painting to tie-dying T-shirts, to making kites, or necklaces from fossilized shark teeth. Staff can also organize pirate scavenger hunts and sailing adventures along with castaway picnics around the island of Parrot Cay.
History of Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles southeast of Miami in the northern Caribbean. They cover 193sq miles of Atlantic Ocean. The islands’ name is derived after the indigenous Turk's Head ‘fez’ cactus; Caicos means ‘string of islands.’ Their discovery is contested: either Columbus or Ponce de Leon arrived first, in 1592.
The original indigenous people were the Taino Indians, followed by the Lucayans, who eventually became victims of Spanish enslavement. In the 17th century, settlers arrived from Bermuda, using slaves to develop cotton and sisal plantations. The land wasn’t good enough, the industry’s death knell sounded by a hurricane in 1813. In 1766, the Turks and Caicos became part of the colony of the Bahamas, later annexed to Jamaica in 1874. In the 1970s, the islands were made a British Crown Colony. In 2009, inhabited islands include Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Pine Cay and Parrot Cay, which is the private island resort belonging to COMO Hotels and Resorts. East Caicos and West Caicos are uninhabited. The total population sits between 30,000 and 35,000 residents.
Tourism is the islands’ principal industry. However, they also function as an important offshore financial centre. Fishing still thrives. The Turks and Caicos have the world’s third largest coral reef system and over 230 miles of white sand beaches. The Turks Bank is the name given to the two large limestone plateaus that root these islands. The deep offshore waters are important transit points for Humpback Whales (December to April), spotted Eagle rays, Manta Rays (summer) and Turtles. Tuna, Wahoo and Blue Marlin also frequent these rich waters.
Coral walls in the Turks and Caicos are considered some of the best in the Caribbean. They include Grand Turk, West Caicos and Provo's Northwest Point. In addition, there are historic wrecks south of Salt Cay.
The salt ponds and inland marshes are favored by a rich array of birdlife, including Great Blue Herons, Flamingos, Osprey, Pelicans, Egrets, Terns, Frigates and Boobies.
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